Monday, January 08, 2007

The Wild Card Weekend

I was as surprised as anyone by how accurate my predictions for this past weekend turned out to be. The only game I got wrong was the game that I assessed most correctly, and only the truly bizarre botched field goal attempt failed me. otherwise I would have been a perfect four-for-four this weekend. (It appears that I may have been premature when I wrote that I was wrong in my initial assessments of Tony Romo.)

Realistically, I had the right winner and roughly the right margin for the Colts, but I don't think anyone expected such an ugly game, such ineffectual offense for long stretches and generally such a sluggish contest. If the Colts play like that against the Ravens, they are going to get mangled.

The last two days did nothing to dissuade me from my belief that the NFC is marginal. Both games ended up being entertaining because the teams were equally matched, but of the eight teams that played in the last two days, i would have a hard time accepting any argument that did not place at least three AFC teams -- the Patriots, Colts, and Jets -- above any of those NFC teams. Things might change when we bring the Saints and Bears into the equation, but as of right now, the AFC is the dominant conference.

The Patriots pounded the Jets, as I thought they would, and while a lot of commenters have said the game was closer than the final score, let's keep in mind that the Pats blew two opportunities to score in the red zone and instead kicked field goals. Add twelve points to the final score (for touchdowns and conversions) and it calls into question just how close that game was. Nonetheless, the Jets played well -- better than any os the losers this weekend -- and I was glad to see Belichick and Mangini embrace after the game. I was even happier to see Belichick engage in what appeared to be dwarf tossing of at least one cameraman.

Early impressions of next weekend:

The two AFC games should be incredible. The four teams are all very, very good. The matchup of the Colts offense against the Ravens defense will provide yet another test of the still unresolved question of whether a great D or a great O will win when they clash. My initial impression is that we should look at the opposite as well -- the Ravens O and the Colts D is dubious, but I think the Colts might be better defensively than the Ravens are on offense. I will change my mind ten times on this question between now and the weekend.

As for the Patriots and Chargers? I cannot imagine what it is like to be a Pats player or coach this week, because I imagine that I will be losing sleep over LaDanian Tomlinson, who really is the most devastating threat in the game. That said, I always like New England's chances against a callow quarterback, and while I think the woeful playoff history of Marty Schottenheimer sometimes is easy to overstate, to whom do you give a coaching advantage in a matchup between the Pats and the Chargers?


Thunderstick said...

The Pats are just better than the Jets. When the Jets get a big play or two, they can stay close with the Pats (like in the second game this season or in the first 20 minutes of the game on Sunday). When they both play matching mistakes/big plays, New England is better (as in the first game this season and as in the next 30 minutes of the game) and when the Pats get the big plays, they clobber the Jets (like in the last 10 minutes).

Should be interesting with San Diego. I'm making a DCat bold prediction here and saying that the winner of SD/NE will win the Super Bowl.

dcat said...

Thunderstick --
As you know, I think you are right on both counts. Of course it will come across as a couple of Boston homers, but anyone who looks at my record here and your comments, plus your contributionas through what I have written about you, will know that while we are fans with blind loyalty, we are also pretty realistic in our assessments. Saying we are going to pound the Jets is not necessarily a statement of a blind fan -- as the final results indicate. This weekend, for example, I can promise that I won't be predicting that the Pats walk all over the Chargers.